You know it's important to instill a healthy lifestyle in your kids, and cooking healthy meals may be one of the most important aspects of your duties as a parent. But sometimes nutrition comes at a price, whether that price is expensive organic food or a time-consuming recipe. Mothers especially are aware that time is a priceless commodity, so we've gathered 16 useful tips to help you cook faster!
Keep your knives sharp. We know that good knives are pricey, but they are totally worth the investment. If you don't know how to sharpen your knives, learn how and be sure to sharpen them every couple weeks. While we're on topic, keep other tools that are used to cut things sharp as well. That means cheese graters, vegetable peelers, etc. Those potatoes will feel as if they're peeling themselves and you'll save tons of time and frustration around dinnertime.
» Here's a great guide to keeping your knives sharp.
Create a flat side on your food before you cut it. A stable surface for the onion you are chopping, for example, creates a safer and easier environment for you to get the job done. You'll be amazed how much easier it is to chop and mince when you have a stable surface, and you'll be able to avoid baking any of your digits in the lasagna.
Organize your kitchen. This may be the most important item on the list. An organized kitchen allows the layout of your kitchen to flow so you can easily access all your kitchen gizmos, gadgets and foods. Here are a few organization tips:
- Keep oil, salt and pepper on the counter. That way you can easily reach for them while you're cooking. Keeping the salt in an open container is handy for when you need a pinch of salt!
- Keep pantry essentials in the front of your cabinet. For example, items like vinegar, sugar and seasoning should be easily accessible so that you don't have to move other foods around in order to get to them.
- Keep your most-used tools in the drawer closest to where you work. If you prepare ingredients on the island in your kitchen, keep items like knives, vegetable peelers, wooden spoons, measuring spoons, whisks, spatulas, etc. in the drawer underneath the counter.
- Get rarely-used tools out of the way. Rolling pins and cherry pitters are definitely useful tools, just not every day. Keep those somewhere out of the way.
- Hang your pots and pans if you can. That will create so much storage space, and it can add some charm to your kitchen!
- Purge your pantry. Get rid of all the unnecessary food that you don't need to avoid confusion and promote a clean working space. Click here to learn how to purge and organize your pantry.
Read recipes all the way through before cooking. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing that the butter should be at room temperature when it's still on its shelf in the fridge! Surprises are a chef's worst enemy.
Prep your ingredients. Not only does prepping the ingredients before you begin cooking save you some time, it also ensures that you're fully prepared when it comes to ingredients. Doing things like mincing garlic, chopping herbs and separating egg whites well before mealtime is not only perfectly acceptable, but also smart and time-savvy.
Embrace multitasking. Always be thinking of ways to make cooking easier on yourself. If that means making the marinade for the chicken while your morning coffee brews, so be it! Multitasking is one of the most efficient time savers.
Cook in bulk. Just like buying in bulk saves you money in the long run, cooking in bulk does the same. Keep in mind freezer-friendly meals while you're planning your meals for the week and double the recipe to pop in the freezer for days when you need an easy meal. Freezer-friendly foods include stuff like tomato sauce, soup, bread, waffles, stock, cookies and cake.
>> Read more: 12 Meals that Include Leftovers for Tomorrow's Lunch
Don't be afraid to repeat a meal every once in a while. Repetition is key to learning! If your kids keep asking for mac and cheese, you can justify feeding them the same meal three days out of the week by telling yourself that eventually you'll be able to make the recipe with eyes closed and with your hands tied behind your back.
Start with the heat. Crank up the oven or set the water to boil before you do anything else. A watched pot may never boils, after all!
Clean as you go. It allows you to move more freely and be able to find what you need faster. Plus, you don't want to make a mess while you're cooking! It only leads to frustration and one long cleanup.
>> Read more: 10 Healthy Home Cleaning Products
Use kitchen scissors to cut cooked or tender veggies. You can cut tender vegetables, especially greens, right in the bowl or pan, eliminating at least two steps in the prep stage. It also cuts down on cleanup time if you don't have any cutting boards to scrub!
Cut chicken cutlets in half so they cook faster. Thick meats take forever to cook all the way through, and they sometimes get drier than desired when the edges are crispy but you're still waiting for the middle to cook through. Cutting meats like chicken cutlets in half will allow them to cook faster and more evenly.
Chop or mince any ingredients that need it together. If all the ingredients are going to be added to the pot at the same time, why not line them up and chop them all at once?
Make one giant sandwich instead of four little ones. Got tons of little ones running around the house? Need to feed them a quick lunch before a T-ball game? Try assembling one giant sandwich on French bread. Just cut the bread in half longways, pile the ingredients on and cut it into as many smaller sandwiches as you need!
Most of the time, you don't have to wait for the oven to preheat fully. Disclaimer: This does not apply for baking. But for most other styles of cooking, you don't need to wait for the oven to do its business, especially if you're cooking veggies or slow-roasted meat.
Don't roll the meatballs! The most time-consuming part of making meatballs is rolling them into perfect balls. If you're short on time, just use two spoons to drop little mounds onto the skillet or frying pan. They'll brown perfectly!
>> Recipe: Skinny Veggie + Turkey Meatballs
What kind of tips do you have to share with us for cooking quickly? Comment below!